Widespread Palestinian Dissatisfaction with the Or Commission’s Report and Recommendations (2003)

A public opinion poll of Palestinians in Israel shows that they believe the Or Commission's recommendations are inadequate as a response to the events of October 2000.

The Survey was conducted by The Arab Center for Applied Social Research (MADA) in Haifa, between the 11th and the 13th September 2003. 402 Palestinians in Israel were questioned about the Or Commission and its recommendations. 211 of the respondents (52.5%) had heard of the Or Commission and were interested in it; they were asked all of the survey questions. The remaining 191 respondents (47.5%) were only questioned about the responsibility for the events of October 2000.

The Survey portrays widespread dissatisfaction among the Palestinians in Israel about many parts of the Commission’s report and its recommendations. The most prevalent concern among the respondents was the Commission’s failure to determine who had direct responsibility for each of the 13 demonstrators’ deaths. 86% of the respondents concurred with the families of the victims’ rejection of the report because it did not reveal who was directly responsible for the demonstrators’ deaths. Consequently, 74.4% of the respondents believed that if the criminal investigations following the Commission’s report do not determine who killed the demonstrators and judge them accordingly, then the victims’ families should take their case to the International Court.

The perceived inadequate assignment of responsibility by the Or Commission appears to be one of the main reasons for the widespread rejection of the Commission’s report and recommendations. A large majority of respondents disagreed with the Or Commission’s assignment of responsibility for the events of October 2000. 76.4% of the respondents expressed dissatisfaction with the Or Commission’s recommendations concerning Ehud Barak; 72.8% concerning Shlomo Ben Ami’s; 69.2% concerning the police and 60.8% concerning the Arab leaders.

The respondents were asked who they thought was responsible for the events of October 2000. The responses were in stark contrast to the findings of the Commission. Respondents attributed high levels of responsibility for the violence to Ehud Barak (71.1%), Shlomo Ben-Ami (69.6%) and the police (70.8%).

Significantly, 33.3 % of respondents (including those who had not heard of the Or Commission) also assigned a high level of responsibility to the Arab leaders for the events of 2000. But when those who heard of the Or Commission were asked about the Commission’s report concerning the role of the Arab leaders, only 21.5% of the respondents agreed with the report’s conclusions (that the Arab leaders had incited violence) while 74% disagreed.

Respondents expressed little hope in any future positive changes as a result of the Or Commission and its recommendations. Only 9.5% of respondents thought that the police attitudes would change as a result of the recommendations and only 7.2% of the respondents believed that any significant change in the state’s relations with its Arab citizens would occur.